While the social implications are far less severe in modern times, the advent of the digital/Internet age is no less significant. As our adaptation to technology is moving at warp speed, Cohen states so has the media landscape and demographic structure. “You fast forward to now, looking at a media landscape that really enables people to [hold on to culture and passions] more so than ever. It’s not uncommon to see someone in their mid to late 30s at the same rock show from an indie band as someone in their 20s. I think a lot of that should be attributed towards the new media world, the Internet, the prevalence of music and entertainment, the omnipresence of all those forms of culture.”
Despite the political climate, the bridging of generation gaps has indeed spurred a more liberal atmosphere, both at home and in the office. “People aren’t as formal in the workplace,” Cohen observes. “Most businesses aren’t requiring people to be in suits. Most meetings are conducted on a much more informal basis, and I think the institutions of business and culture have both gotten a lot more casual.” It is perhaps this dual paradigm shift that’s been the catalyst for a group like grups to emerge.
The term itself, which can be attributed to New York scribe Adam Sternbergh, is somewhat of a blanket tag for a counterculture all its own. As Cohen touched upon, it’s a market that’s more likely to download TV on the Radio or Thom Yorke’s new opus on iTunes rather than pick up adult contemporary tripe at their local record store. It’s a faction that finds its couture in East Village boutiques or even H&M versus the men’s department at Macy’s. “It is a real group and a real movement where there are people who want to retain that lifestyle and have found ways where they don’t have to compromise that,” Cohen says.
It is also one that is metastasizing, according to one of its own. “It’s a growing group,” Cohen claims. “You can’t say it’s a majority, but it really is very much a growing group, a powerful group that I think is picking up fast. More and more people in this world, they want to do what makes them happy. They want to do what they like. They want to do things that keep them attached to their interests.
He continues, “I think in this day and age, people have changed their priorities. I think if you look back at the past generations in the early 90s and 80s, people had that ‘Wall Street, must be successful’ mentality, and that’s how success was measured. I think success now is measured in your happiness. Success is not measured in terms of how financially successful. It’s about, ‘Am I happy? And what makes me happy? Do I get to do the things on a daily basis that I want to do?’ I think that’s really the aesthetic of that culture.”
From a marketing standpoint, Grups pose an interesting scenario for tastemakers and thought leaders like Jon Cohen. Can a campaign/marketing blitz extend beyond its intended 18-34 into a slightly older target, one which tends to a newborn or toddler’s needs but still manages to remain hip? Cornerstone’s branding efforts seem to have been predominantly geared towards a twentysomething audience, whether it is the Nike ID interactive blogging and online creative, the Underworld: Evolution interactive media push, or a Red Stripe promotion.